Wider Deployment of ANPR 2004 to 2009

In 2003 Science Policy Unit produced a report for the “”Police Science and Technology Strategy” with a five year plan from 2004 to 2009.

Part of the plan was a significant increase in ANPR, the report states that: “Wider deployment of ANPR technology across the service to target known offenders.”

Full Report

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Electronic Number Plates

DVLA is currently trialling/testing the use of Electronic Number Plates within the UK. These tests are starting because the UK law has been adapted to allow for the electronic tags of all cars in the future:

The Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001 introduced a provision to enable the making of regulations specifying additional information to be displayed on or contained in number plates. The provision was deliberately worded so as to allow for the possible use of microchips in number plates. This provision would have to be activated for the use of electronic plates in a live environment.

The electronic number plates could be used across Europe to track vehicles for surveillance and road pricing purposes. Currently the DVLA is erring towards using RFIDs on vehicles.

In April 2006, DVLA’s partner IBM, were commissioned to produce an analysis of consideration for introducing an RFID based system for the purposes of vehicle identification and road pricing. In summary, the analysis concluded the active tag would appear to be the only proven solution to identify a moving vehicle at a reasonable distance in freeflowing traffic

The range of the RFID could be up to 100m, according the DVLA.

The privacy issues in relation to this have not been addressed at all by the DVLA, nor do they appear to have consulted the ICO.

Full DVLA report available here DVLA Electronic Numer Plate Report

Other Articles on the subject are

RFID Vehicle Tagging

Cloning Cars

Plans to chip all cars?

The UK-based vehicle licence plate manufacturer, Hills Numberplates Ltd, has chosen long-range RFID tags and readers from Identec Solutions to be embedded in licence plates that will automatically and reliably identify vehicles in the UK.

The new e-Plates project uses active (battery powered) RFID tags embedded in the plates to identify vehicles in real time. The result is the ability to reliably identify any vehicle, anywhere, whether stationary or mobile, and – most importantly – in all weather conditions. (Previous visually-based licence plate identification techniques have been hampered by factors such as heavy rain, mist, fog, and even mud or dirt on the plates.)

The e-Plates project has been under development for the past three years at a cost of more than £1 million, and is currently under consideration by a number of administrations. It is hoped that e-Plate will be one of the systems trialled by the UK Government in its forthcoming study of micro-chipped licence plates.

Chipped plates
The plates are the same shape and size as conventional plates, and are permanently fitted to the vehicle in the same way. But each e-Plate contains an embedded tag with a unique, encrypted identification number that is transmitted by the tag for detection by RFID readers. Multiple tags can be read simultaneously by a single reader at speeds of up to 320km per hour (200mph), up to 100 metres (300 feet) away.

The reader network, which includes fixed location readers (for use on the roadside) and portable readers (for use in surveillance vehicles and handheld devices), sends the unique identifier in real time to a central system where it is matched with the corresponding vehicle data such as registration number, owner details, make, model, colour, and tax/insurance renewal dates.

Identities secured
A key benefit of the e-Plate is that the tag provides an encrypted and secure ID code which is registered in the UK Ministry of Transport’s vehicle database. This code prevents tampering, cloning, or other forms of fraud that can currently happen with camera-based systems. Additionally, the e-Plate is designed to shatter if anyone tries to remove or otherwise tamper with it, and the tag can be programmed to transmit a warning if any attempt is made to dislodge the plate.

Surveillance applications
The system is expected to be used to identify vehicles for applications such as security, access control, electronic payment, tracking and processing, traffic management, and customer service. Commercial applications could include car dealerships, rental companies, insurance companies, fleet operators, and parking garages. In the public sector, the main applications would include enforcement (compliance with road tax, insurance, and mechanical checks), access control to restricted areas, combating vehicle theft and associated crime, and traffic flow counting and modelling.

According to Richard Taffinder, operations director for Hills Numberplates, the e-Plates were developed to provide companies and public authorities with a more reliable way to positively identify and capture information on a vehicle.


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Steal a Number Plate Avoid ANPR

ANPR was invented to ‘combat terrorism’ but is now used to enforce the most minor of road traffic offenses; the whole system is 100% reliant on the number plate being the correct.

The question of “why would a criminal use the correct number plate on their car?” leaps to mind.

The police are already aware of the problem and the Superintendent John Wake at ACPO’s Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service recently stated “I don’t have confidence that beyond that you can identify that that vehicle is the legitimate vehicle for that plate”.

According to the DVLA & Police more than 40,000 sets of number plates were stolen in 2006, a rise of almost 25%. Because of this ACPO wants tamper proof plates and a central number plate issuing deparment. The DVLA is currently considering requiring all forcing all motorcycles (1.3 million) to be fitted with plates featuring electronic tags, which have been tested around the UK.

A car can be cloned, simply by stealing the plate of a similar car, and putting it on another car. This way when the “suspect” car goes through a speed camera, congestion point, or ANPR camera, the lawful owner of the cloned car ,who has done nothing wrong, will get a ticket, automatically, and will have great difficulty in proving they are innocent,. The innocent party will be required to prove they are innocent.

The Met Police think that the cloning has increased because of the amount of camera based detection of “offences”. Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Glen Smyth said the ‘problem has grown because of the amount of camera-based enforcement of traffic offences, which relies on computer records on who owns which car’.

This means that ANPR was invented to combat terrorism, it was then used to ‘combat’ the scourge of no road tax, but this then created a new breed of offences, so we are now creating new laws and new technology to resolve the issue of car cloning.

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600,000 Cars Tracked a Day in Manchester via ANPR

GMP combines wireless CCTV and ANPR to collect more data

A supplier to the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) recently announcing that it’s now “virtually impossible to drive a car into the centre [of Manchester] without having its licence plate, colour and time of entry recorded.”

The scheme involves ringing the city with CCTV cameras, which use a wireless network to send back information to be checked by the police.

Around 600,000 number plates are recorded as day, and stored up to five years.

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More companies profit from ANPR

While the hardware industry of CCTV recording, and the software industry of reading the images collected by CCTV, have been working with the goverment for a long time on ANPR, new group of software companies are now working in the industry.

i2, a company that produces software for building patterns and making connections between people, through phone numbers, credit card recods, email addresses, etc, has now produced software to work with ANPR.

This software will link in with i2’s other database products allowing police and businesses a like to keep track of the criminal, citizens and employees far more effectively. It would be interesting to know if i2 was provided with a substantial amount of data from goverment ANPR cameras in order to build and test the latest database software.

“i2 is unlocking the full potential of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) data gathered by cameras across the country.

ANPR data led to more than 20,000 vehicle seizures and 18,000 arrests in 2006 and has firmly established itself as a valuable tool to the UK’s police forces. However, the significance of the gathered information could be far greater.”


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Met and TFL get ANPR and excempt from DPA

Date: 17 July 2007

Transport for London and the Met Police not only use ANPR but are now exempt from certain parts of the Data Protection act, after the Home Secretary (Jacqui Smith as the time), signed a certificate to exempt them.

The Minister of State, Home Department (Mr. Tony McNulty): I would like to inform the House that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has signed a certificate to exempt Transport for London (TfL) and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) from certain provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 to facilitate the bulk transfer of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) data from TfL to the MPS. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police believes that it is necessary due to the enduring, vehicle-borne terrorist threat to London. The MPS requires bulk ANPR data from TfL’s camera network in London specifically for terrorism intelligence purposes and to prevent and investigate such offences. The infrastructure will allow the realtime flow of data between TfL and the MPS.